Left tackle was a need for the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier this year. They had different routes to address the position but decided to go with the devil they knew and applied the franchise tag on Cam Robinson. The Jags will give the Alabama product one more year to show he’s the answer at left tackle. They may be in for a rude awakening if Brent Sobleski of Bleacher Report is right.
Sobleski recently predicted every NFL team’s biggest bust in 2021 and he believes Robinson will be the most colossal one in Jacksonville. He says that expectations are placed on players that get slapped with the franchise tag but he thinks that the Jaguars left tackle’s situation is a bit different.
"The Jacksonville Jaguars decided to pay their left tackle $13.8 million this season because they didn’t see the value in anyone else on the market. Basically, the organization looked at the free-agent pool and decided it couldn’t get anyone better than its current serviceable left tackle."
Sobleski opines that this was a terrible approach. He points out that Robinson has struggled over his four-year career and adds that the Jags could have gotten someone like Russell Okung, Alejandro Villanueva, or Charles Leno Jr. at a cheaper rate. Sobleski also notes that Jacksonville could have used a first-round pick in the draft if they didn’t find a left tackle worth paying in free agency. He then adds that they ended up overpaying for “a marginal performer”.
This wasn’t necessarily a bad move for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
It’s true that Robinson hasn’t played at a high level. However, there are several reasons why applying the franchise tag on him isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Offensive line George Warhop told the local media not long ago that even though the 2017 second-round pick needs to be more consistent in pass blocking, he has made strides this offseason.
The Jags are set to pay Robinson $13.754 million in 2021. Although it looks like a huge amount at first, it isn’t cost-prohibitive. Keep in mind that the top three tackles in the NFL (Trent Williams, David Bakhtiari, and Laremy Tunsil) will average $22 million per year or more in 2021. Robinson’s salary ranks 13th in left tackle average per year, per Spotrac.
Then, there’s Walker Little. While it’s true that the Jaguars didn’t use their second first-round pick on an offensive tackle (they used the first one on Trevor Lawerence), they drafted the Stanford product in Round 2. Little tore his ACL early in 2019 and opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns. Nevertheless, he’s earned rave reviews from head coach Urban Meyer and Warhop. Meyer says that the former Cardinal is 20 percent fat and praised his footwork. Meanwhile, Warhop mentioned that he came in as or more prepared than any first or second-round pick he’s ever coached.
If Robinsons struggles in 2021, Little can take his place in the starting lineup. Furthermore, the Jaguars can move on from him next offseason without any financial repercussions. On the other hand, if he thrives and shows he’s the answer at left tackle, he will cash in 2022. Either way, the Jaguars have options moving forward.